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Tale of an Isolated Farm
He had never known his mother. He had never known another human being, aside from his father.
—A long time ago, he began, —a small boy lived on a farm surrounded by a dense and wild forest, all alone with his father. He had never known his mother. He had never known another human being, aside from his father. The two lived a difficult life, but it was the only life the boy had ever known, and so it didn’t trouble him. Then, one day, his father fell ill. His father had not been a farmer all his life; he had been many places in his life, and seen many things, and he was educated enough to recognize the seriousness of his condition. Without treatment, he knew, he would quickly weaken and die. But he was already too weak to leave the farm, and so despite his son’s tender age he had no choice but to send him to the nearest village for a doctor. This village was a full day’s journey away, and the path to it was poorly marked; at times it was scarcely distinguishable from a game trail for all but the most experienced woodsmen. The boy had never ventured beyond the outskirts of the farm before, and so although his father gave the boy detailed directions, it should come as little surprise to anyone that he soon became hopelessly lost. He wandered for hours under the thick canopy of moss-laden branches, following whatever he thought most closely resembled a trail until it inevitably faded into nothing, then stumbling dumbly over twisted roots and stones until he found another, repeating this cycle until, finally, he came to a small clearing that was different from those he had encountered before. In the afternoon light he saw a simple wooden shed, like the kind his father had used as a workshop before he had fallen ill, sitting at the center of the clearing, already half-shrouded in the lengthening shadows of the trees at the far edge. Thinking that perhaps he had finally come upon the outskirts of the village, or at least the homestead of some rural family that could help him, he rushed forward towards it, not noticing in his excitement how curiously barren the clearing was, and how few signs it bore of traversal by other creatures. When he pulled open the door he didn’t find, as he had expected, some dusty racks of tools and a workbench, before which, he had hoped, would be a kindly man ready to set aside his work and help him, but instead nothing but a flight of stairs, leading steeply downwards, far into the ground, far into darkness. The boy was suddenly aware that he couldn’t hear the sounds of the forest anymore, the clicks and chirps and rustles that had been his only companion since he had left the farm. There was nothing, now, but a low, steady hum, wrapping around him and slithering beneath his skin like a ghostly snake. He felt an overwhelming desire to descend the stairs, wherever they may lead, and so, after a moment of hesitation, he did. The door closed behind him. The sounds of the forest resumed as if nothing had ever happened. The boy’s father eventually died. It was a long, slow death, with much suffering. Eventually, the boy found his way to the bottom of the stairs. And so it was that Reason came into this world.
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